Freaky Food Truck business model exploded | Writing | Food Newsie

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Freaky Food Truck business model exploded

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Freaky Food Truck business model exploded

It’s seems that if you have a few dollars and an internet connection, it’s nearly impossible to starve. The only thing restaurants haven’t done yet these days is obtain licensing to perform food drops from the air. Food name gimmicks are increasing increasingly, but it seems there’s a limit; last night, I described a food truck where sandwiches would be bite sized, wrapped in folded steamed buns (Zengo-like), named after US Presidents (Taylor Gourmet-like) and called First Bites – contact me for partnership details. What more does hawking curbside snacks take to start in addition to 1-minute napkin sketch concepts?

According to DC.gov’s How to Start a Mobile Food Truck Business page, there is a six-step process if you’re wondering how to start a food truck business in Washington, D.C. Steps include Department of Health inspections, Fire Marshall inspections and a Conduct Plan Review which outlines food types and preparation methods. Here’s a neat fact, you’re unlikely to see a semi-truck food truck since guidelines currently lock in maximum sizes at 18.5 feet long, 10.5 feet tall and 8 feet wide – nearly a first generation Hummer. The current costs in standard fees come to $135 bucks. More costs are incurred by inspections, truck customization and any fees associated with licensing the drivers for Class-A licenses.

What’s interesting and stated by the DC page is that just about all the laws that pertain to Food Trucks come from the days when only Ice Cream trucks ruled the curbs. With constant complaints from Food Truck owners that they’re harassed and forced to keep constantly on the move, I’m reminded that when I was a kid, there was, in fact, only ONE Ice Cream truck that didn’t move, waiting for US to come to IT and that was the one at the pool. The bells and whistles Ice Cream trucks are famous for are to announce their arrival since, at least by Miami Law, trucks vending food AREN’T ALLOWED TO STOP unless customers are already queued – source Not having to squat seems to me like a benefit to a Food Truck over a food cart which must stick only to one corner – but still, Food Trucks feel endlessly harassed (I’d like to hear from them in the Comments below.)

The Hiccup

With no physical location, it’s not like you can call Sysco and have more buns delivered to your moving target. Additionally, if you plan on 400 lunch covers for your Soup of The Day, it’s unlikely that vats of Broccoli soup will be safe sloshing around in the back as they slow cook. You will need fixed assets like a full kitchen with a mailing address. Your fixed assets will become liabilities which is very peculiar. Normally, fixed assets are the most reliable aspects of a business – Chapter 11? No problem, sell the $11,500 dollar stove…. Food Trucks guard their “home kitchens” with ferocity for fear of being undercut by a competitor or perhaps(?) the folks renting kitchen space have requested anonymity if they feel your food truck is offering something at odds with what they offer (a stretch, but it could happen).

One truck, one kitchen – the frightful one-to-one business model. It scatters resources and makes business tough to break into or sustain. The one-to-many business flow is how food distributors survive. “Shared use” kitchens are one-to-many services and there’s a need in D.C. for cheaper shared use kitchens. There’s also a cry from chefs starting out as Kitchen Chicago found out when they were trying to find, “an affordable kitchen space in which to start a food business. What we found instead was that we were not alone. Every other developing chef we spoke with expressed the same frustration of not being able to produce at home, but not able or willing to take on the financial rists of opening their own commercial kitchen,” states the About Us page at their website KitchenChicago.com (Not available for comment before posting; I’ll update here if they call back.)

Freaky Food Truck business model exploded

"Kelley" sticks to the old Ice Cream and Lunch standby. She'll not meet you at the curb, however.

I had to chase her down and snap a junk picture of her truck’s butt as she heads to automobile fix-it shops in and around Rockville, MD. Everything is microwaved to order or pulled from the Ice Cream freezer thereby avoiding the need for a kitchen. Still a hot number.

Some “Fixes” I’d Love To See

Of course I’m just ‘come mierda’ as the Latins say which politely means fantasizing. These ideas seem good to me as I sit in my home plugging away at the computer and checking the news every now and then. That’s why, Fixes, is in quotes. What you don’t know is that this 2011, FN almost became a start-up’s investor, and, in another move, part owner of a MoCo Food Truck that was to be associated with a restaurant standing since 1955. I’ve given this some thought but LOVE learning more – so without knowing more than I know now, here’s what I’ve got for the discussion…

City buses don’t Tweet their locations; everyone knows where and when there will be a bus. The advantage to Food Trucks Tweeting includes menu updates and locations – but with laws saying you cannot legally stop to ATTRACT business, only CONDUCT business, Food Trucks have to keep on trucking or risk the inevitable complaint from nearby food-sellers. So, Tweet the day’s route and drive it in circles.

If you can’t beat’em, join’em! Local food-sellers should play both sides of the one-to-many. Not only should they consider spending less to expand on wheels (makes a great spot to train new servers and cooks) but they should spend a million less dollars than it takes to open a new restaurant by funding a Shared Use kitchen. Place it in an up and coming spot and stock it with what’s needed most by non-competing vendors. There’s less staff, shorter hours, and until Shared Kitchens are on every block, more profit.

Even Shared Use kitchens can play both sides of the model by housing a small, walk-up only front end that sells what’s made in the back. If a patron can’t wait for their favorite truck to roll up, they can hoof it to the kitchen where some of First Bites’ little burgers have been left behind along with offerings of other trucks that use the same kitchen.

One cottage industry player that I can’t wait to see is similar to my Delivery Cafe concept that almost got off the ground in Miami until I moved back to Maryland. It would prepare no food but take orders and deliver them from afar like Waiter on Wheels almost. Seeing delivery scooters chase Food Trucks to fetch the latest mobile catch would thrill me!

Freaky Food Truck business model exploded

Some Food Trucks need no introduction.

It seems there’s no end to what the district’s residents and workers will come to the curb for. So before D.C. puts the carriage too far before the horse with all these one-to-one model Food Trucks, I think there’s no end to the ways in which D.C. entrepreneurs can catapult the district to the forefront of the modern eating bandwagon nyuk nyuk by starting some good one-to-many modeled businesses way ahead of everyone else.

EDIT This post appeared online January 14, 2011 at a slightly different address. Some snark has been removed but it remains substantially the same and may now, though freshly posted, be out of date.

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